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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

92                             THE GAY GENIUS

Independent Critics

LIU CHIH, later enemy of SU

SU SUNG

SUNGMINCHIU

LI TALIN

Other Censors

CHENG SHIA, "the little man
with the big role", small gate-
keeper who overthrew WANG
ANSHIH

The highly unbalanced alignment of forces is both tragic and amus-
ing. Looking down the list, one cannot help wondering at the un-
happy knack of Wang Anshih for alienating his own friends, and the
heavy price the Emperor was willing to pay to keep Wang in power,
since all those in opposition were cashiered, dismissed, and punished,
In the end. Emperor Shentsung had to dismiss Wang Anshih, Lu
Huiching, and Dunquan, too, His dream of a strong, powerful state
vanished, and he was content to govern in a vacuujn of mediocrities.
If good judgment of men is an attribute of divinity, it would seem that
the posthumous title of the emperor, Shentsung, or "Divine Ancestor",
was a gross misnomer.

The tragedy of Wang Anshih comes from the fact that he was not
in any way self-indulgent or corrupt himself, and that his hand was
forced. To carry out anything so radical as his state capitalism pro-
gramme, he knew he had to override all opposition^ Perhaps that was
why he had bided his time so long. He had a vision, and his wagon
was hitched to that starry vision, not of a happy, peaceful and pros-
perous nation, but of a rich, strong, and powerful state, expanding its
borders north and south. God had willed that the Sung dynasty was to
be great and expansionist, like the Hans and the Tangs, and he, Wang
Anshih, was the manifest Man of Destiny. But there is not one "Man
of Destiny" who does not- appear slightly pathetic in the contemplation
of future historians—a man caught in the prison of his ambition, a
victim of his own dream, which grew and expanded and then burst
like a bubble.

Despising all the "conservative philistines", he not only alienated
the good old ministers, but even lost Han Wei and Lu Kungchu, who
were his best friends. Han Wei, we remember, was the friend who had
turned Shentsung's heart and hopes towards Wang Anshih when the
former was crown prince. When these friends disagreed with him on
the manner in which he carried out his projects, he had no hesitation
in banishing them from the court. Deserted and alone, he took in and